Sunday, August 12, 2012

Engaging with Edmodo

As I began this school year, one thing was certain in my mind; I was gong to use Edmodo.  After a successful year utilizing this great tool with my 8th grade Language Arts students last year, I knew this tool was a "Sure Win" this year.

Not only was I planning to utilize this tool, but our entire Middle School team was also on board.  At a recent team meeting, we discussed ways to engage, communicate and go "digital" in all classes.  Edmodo was the deciding tool to do all of these things in a user-friendly environment.

Last Friday, each student in all of my 6-8 grade classes was given the code to join his/her group section in Edmodo.  Each one of them was new to Edmodo! The excitement, enthusiasm and engagement was immediately evident as they so diligently read recent posts, explored the calendar of events and explored ways to change their profile pictures.

This weekend was full of "notifications" that displayed messages from various students.  The messages ranged from, "My friend can't get logged in anymore." to "I love Edmodo. When do we have homework?"  All of these things were proof of engaged and excited students.  I am so anxious for Monday.  I can't wait to hear more about their first experiences with Edmodo!

As I use this tool to engage, communicate and support, I am expanding the learning environment to one that meets the needs of 21st century student learners. I am excited for what is to come this year!  Here's to  a great year!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

My Summer in ONE Word: SCORE

Summer 2012: SCORE


Sharing: Summer 2012 proved to be a great one.  I spent a lot of time sharing information with others.  Weekly WOW sessions were a success.  This makes me excited for the New Year.

Connecting: This had to be my favorite part of the summer. Not only was I able to connect with family and friends, but was able to make awesome connections with other professionals in education who have a passion for technology in education.  Thanks to Twitter and my #PLN

Organizing: Although I spent time organizing trainings, I was also successful at organizing thoughts full of the awesome technology ideas and tools I have gained this summer.  Tools like Evernote (thanks to @Mandery) have kept me on my toes and more organized.

Reflecting: I also spent some time reflecting on technology trends, tools and am excited to share these ideas with students and staff.

Energizing: This has to be the most energizing summer I have had.  There is just something about surrounding yourself with others who display positive energy and ideas for technology.  I am thankful for the many opportunities this summer had to offer and am ready to SCORE this school year!  Let's "PLAY BALL!"

Thursday, June 7, 2012

WOW: (Wired On Wednesdays) Living up to its name

I never could have imagined how "big" this WOW idea would become. Yesterday's WOW session on iMovie with featured iMovie expert @mrbadura, proved to be yet another successful morning. We had approximately twenty-five people in attendance. The best part was seeing that all five schools in the district were represented. The enthusiasm was tremendous, as you will see in the iMovie clip below. When brainstorming this whole WOW idea, I imagined a few teachers who work closely with me coming just to support me and my efforts. Little did I know, I would soon receive emails and tweets with questions and inquires about WOW and the weekly topics?

The idea of WOW is to provide short, informative information/training on a couple of tech tools or apps and allow participants time to "play" while in the presence of a techie to provide support. When choosing to only go an hour at a time, I felt this would keep people in the mindset that they were not giving up an entire day or half of a day to attend. I like to compare it to a "lunch date". We all know that teachers like to schedule lunch dates in the summer because they have the time. WOW is like a “lunch date” where teachers can get together for an hour and get excited about technology.

 The first three sessions have been absolutely wonderful. A quote I must share from this week is this: "I am so excited about this new technology that I don't even mind school starting on August 9th." This is one example of how WOW has proven to be a successful idea and it has taken off. I am excited for what the future of WOW holds.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WOW (Wired On Wednesdays)

As some of you may know, I decided to start a summer PD "gig" for staff members in our district.  As a teacher and technology facilitator, I felt the need for a variety of simple, short training sessions that would cover a variety of technology and integration topics.  My idea was WOW (Wired on Wednesday).  Each Wednesday morning  I am holding hour long sessions on various technology related topics.  

Today happened to be WOW session #1.  Thirteen teachers and two administrators attended today’s session.  This was not bad for a first attempt at PD like this.  Due to the recent distribution of iPads to teachers, I decided to focus on iPad tips and tricks today.  This was a great starting point.  The reassurance that proved this was a great topic was hearing the "Ohhhhhs" and the "Wows" as new things were learned.    

 I am anxious to see what the summer brings as these WOW sessions continue to strengthen teachers and bring more technology knowledge and integration to our students and staff!  Thank you to all of you who are a part of my PLN.  A lot of what I am gaining and able to share comes from great people like you.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hello Summer: Here's to more learning and sharing

Recently, I tweeted about my "switch" from PC to MAC. I feel this blog post is meant not to justify my switch, but to share the excitement I have for learning more about all technology tools and platforms.  Technology knowledge is a journey.  This journey is forever changing and consistently exciting. 

After "re-connecting" with Twitter and adding to my PLN during these last few months, I find myself acquiring new friends, new ideas, new tools and new challenges.  With these new challenges comes the challenge of becoming familiar with new technology.  I want to not only pass these ideas and tools on to others, but want to be comfortable with the tools myself. I plan to continue my PLN journey by becoming more familiar with the tools I am constantly reading, hearing and seeing in my PLN.

Here's to summer 2012: May it be one filled with fun, learning, sharing and excitement for what's to come!

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Out of classroom" lessons

After beginning my 'blogging" last week, I found myself skeptical of the whole idea a few days later. I wasn't sure if I had ideas worth sharing. I quickly overcame this doubt tonight and feel this post IS worth sharing.

Today I as privileged enough to be part of our school wide Field Day. For my students this is a HUGE day. They cannot wait to get out of the classroom and show off "other" talents. For me, it is just a great opportunity to have fun and teach various "real life" lessons while reflecting on the many things kids can, and do learn, outside of the classroom.

I was stationed at the long jump this year and spent the afternoon conversing with the students, measuring attempts and cheering them on. One conversation today is the motive for this blog post. A fifth grade girl came up to me and said, "Mrs. Callihan, I sure hope you are running the 400M with the sixth grade girls today!" I looked at her and said, "Wow, you remember that from last year." I was speechless. This young lady remembered this from her fourth grade year. The thought of this "race" was on my mind for sure, but this comment put the "icing on the cake" for me. I knew I had to be committed and go for it.

Two years ago when I first decided to participate in this event, my goal was to encourage all of my sixth grade girls to try the event. This was the only event they could opt out of. I wanted to get as many girls to enter as possible. In my mind, I wanted to use this opportunity to show them a different kind of lesson, a lesson out of the classroom. I wanted to show them that their "time" doesn't always matter. I wanted them to feel the excitement and know how important it was to try these new things and feel the sense of pride and accomplishment when finished. It took some convincing, but I assured this first group I would jog in the back with anyone interested. I assured them we could finish together. Today, and two years later, it was no different. I finished the race with two young ladies who would not have normally competed in this event.

Obviously, actions such as this make a difference to other students as well. The fifth grade student I mentioned earlier cannot wait to participate in 6th grade. She did not run today, but was very curious what my plan was for running. She even committed to trying it next year with me.

Many of us already know the impact our "out of classroom" actions have on our students, but sometimes we don't stop and reflect on the depth of this impact. Although I was out of the classroom today, I can go to bed knowing that I made a difference.  Isn’t that our goal in education? 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Rookie Cache

As I reflect on my recent experiences @NETA12 I find myself thinking these things:

1. Wow, I connected with and met so many wonderful, people.
2. Where, can I house all my recently gained knowledge, thoughts and experiences?
3. This isn't my first NETA conference, why was this one the best?
4. Presenting during the last session on friday wasn't as bad as I thought!

These thoughts and many more bring me to my "Rookie" blog post tonight.  I have been considering this "blog" stuff for some time, but have never had the courage to put myself out there.  #NETA12 and some great people in my Twitter PLN inspired me to start now and not delay.  Thank you @mrbadura for the final words of encouragement to end my excuse train.

So as I reflect on all the new "techy" things I learned this last week, I am also reflecting on all the things I have learned about myself.  I have "officially" put myself out there in the Blog World!  I am excited about this professional learning opportunity.  Although I have been in education for fourteen years, I am always looking to learn and gain knowledge from others.  Conferences such as NETA provide this opportunity.  I am also looking forward to learning, growing and blogging with my followers. 

Thank you to all of you who have spent time "connecting" with me these last few days.  I'm anxious to continue this blog journey and continue sharing this and other professional learning experiences.